In case you’re not familiar with the term, a ghost town can refer to a city, work facility, or building that has been abandoned. Ghost towns inately give off eerie vibes, as they usually hold some trace of a former civilization being there. The mystery behind the abandonment of these areas is one main reason as to why most people find these places fascinating.
There are ghost towns scattered throughout the world, each one claiming its own story or theory about why people left behind an entire city. Some are more morbid than others, and here are our picks for some of the most frightening.
10 Pyramiden, Norway
This abandoned Russian coal mining facility was sold to the Soviet Union on Norwegian territory in 1927. The region had a theater, sports complex, and library among its residential homes, all of which were abandoned without any clear reason why. There were still remnants of previous tenants such as stacked dishes, folded blankets, and coal mining equipment left behind. To this day, no-one knows why people decided to leave or where they went.
People can visit Pyramiden today without any real guidance, and many of the edifices remain intact and unlocked. Be careful though; even though it's a ghost town, there are still rules in place to prevent any misconduct.
9 KAYAKÖY, ANATOLIA, TURKEY
In southwestern Turkey, a town by the name of Kayaköy is left in disarray. Located in the province of Lycia, this town was once home to Greek inhabitants before the Ottoman Empire’s disruption in the early 1900s. By 1918, almost everyone had been hunted down, leaving the small Turkish town all but silent.
Today, it serves as a museum. There are still about 500 houses scattered throughout the city that act as reminders of the horrific events that occurred here.
8 Varosha, Cyprus
Varosha is another Greek town whose citizens fled when Cyprus was invaded. During its heyday, Varosha was a boom tourist capital and many hotels and buildings were constructed to feed its swarming guests.
In 1974, however, all 40,000 of the people who lived here were forced out by the Turkish military and the area was fenced off. Residents hoped the situation would calm down, but because of its value, the Turkish army has refused to hand the city back to the United Nations until a deal can be met. It has been abandoned for decades, so most of the once-glistening establishments have started to become run-down and decayed.
7 BODIE, CALIFORNIA
East of Sierra Nevada in California, the town of Bodie is a skeleton of a previously thriving gold mining city. The ghost town of Bodie started booming in 1876 when gold ore was discovered in the area. The mining province declined over the years, with its only draws being a couple of hotels and a railroad station.
The railway closed in 1917, which left almost nothing for the citizens of Bodie. Today, it’s recognized as a National Park, with tourists coming every year to view an authentic Wild West town frozen in time.
6 ST. ELMO, COLORADO
St. Elmo is another mining town that gained traction in the 1880s due to its influx of gold and silver. Once the profits ran out, so did the means to keep the town alive. Most of the residents eventually moved out, but legend has it that one family remained.
The Starks tried to buy out most of the property of St. Elmo and took control of the Home Comfort Hotel. However, the Starks realized their attempts were futile once the railroad station shut down. Today, there are numerous accounts stating the St. Elmo is haunted, particularly by Annabelle Stark. Annabelle died in 1960, but people swear they see her floating around from time to time or feel her presence.
5 Copehill Down, United Kingdom
American troops cleared out the town of Copehill Down in the U.K. in order to make ground for a training facility. Citizens had hopes of returning after the Second World War, but they were denied re-entry.
Today, it is owned by the Ministry of Defence to run test and training courses. They occasionally open up to the public to re-enact war scenes, but most visitors are interested in seeing the homes of the people who were forced to leave their beloved city. The former residents were never allowed back in.
4 Cahaba, Alabama
Cahaba held the title of the state capital from 1820 to 1825, before it was transferred to Selma. A series of floods devastated the town beyond repair, forcing its residents to find homes elsewhere.
Cahaba was eventually sold for a mere $500 and most of its architecture was sold for scraps. Today, the town is listed as a National Park, so visitors can marvel at its remains. The cemetery here still exists, and people claim to have run-ins with ghosts on a regular basis.
3 Centralia, Pennsylvania
As recently as 1983, Centralia, Pennsylvania was a prosperous city. A fire has been ongoing beneath this town since 1962 down in the mines. The fire was so bad that it opened up a sinkhole in a resident’s backyard. In 1981, a twelve-year-old boy fell into the hole, which had hot steam rising from it and apparently contained lethal levels of carbon monoxide. The boy’s cousin saved him from falling in, but the situation caused a major panic within the town.
$42 million were offered in relocation efforts, which persuaded more than 1,000 people to move from the toxic environment. Today, it remains a ghost town, with smoke still rising between its cracked streets as a hint of what lies beneath this town.
2 VIRGINIA CITY, MONTANA
Virginia City was once the pride and joy of Madison County, Montana. It became a boomtown amidst a gold rush, though this led to more criminal activity than it did prosperity. Through greed and arrogance, Virginia City’s “road agents” killed hundreds of residents. To counter these agents, the Montana Vigilantes opened fire against their rivals and would hang many of their opponents between 1863 and 1864.
Virginia City was dubbed a ghost town by the 1950s, and is a popular tourist spot today. There are over 300 buildings still intact from when they were originally built prior to the 1900s. Due to the numerous murders that happen in this town, it is also a hot spot for ghost and spirit hunters.
1 Schoemansdal, Limpopo
This Dutch settlement in South Africa lasted a mere thirty years before it was turned into a ghost town. The town was bombarded by Venda militants who ran out the residents and it was eventually torched in July 1867.
What framework was left was torn down by nature over the years. The town’s history was diligently preserved, however, and it acts as a tourist attraction for curious travelers.